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Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus

Book by Tom Warburton & Mo Willems.
Lyrics by Mo Willems.
Music by Deborah Wicks La Puma.
Dramaturgy by Megan Alrutz.

Based on The Pigeon picture books by Mo Willems.

Whatever you do, don’t let The Pigeon star in his own musical production! Because it’s not easy being The Pigeon– you never get to do ANYTHING! But when the Bus Driver has a crisis that threatens to make her passengers (gasp!) late, maybe that wily bird CAN do something. Starring an innovative mix of actors, puppets, songs, and feathers, Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive The Bus! (The Musical) is sure to get everyone’s wings flapping. With a script written by Mo Willems, the creator of the #1 New York Times best-selling, Caldecott-honor award winning Pigeon picture books, along with longtime collaborator and Disney Jr’s Muppet Babies executive producer, Mr. Warburton, and featuring music by Deborah Wicks La Puma, the composer behind Elephant & Piggie’s We Are In A Play! and Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed: The Rock Experience, this comedic musical production is even more fun than staying up late and having a hot dog party!

  • Run Dates Mar 19 - Apr 25, 2021
  • Appropriate Ages All Audiences
  • Duration 60 minutes

Show Program


  • Pigeon – Malik Fortner
  • Bus Driver – Dani Cleveland
  • Business Person / Airplane – Jay Hayden
  • Duckling / Bus Driver’s Mom / Puppy – Natalie Hanson
  • City Worker / Teenager – Farrah Sklar
  • 2nd Pigeon Puppet / Little Old Lady – Zhomontee Watson
  • Understudy – Shannon Duke

Artistic/Production Credits

  • Director – Stephanie Jacobson
  • Assistant Director – Brandi M. Smith
  • Music Director – Jerry Brabec
  • Choreographer – Sue Gillespie Booton
  • Resident Stage Manager – Lisa Krabbenhoft
  • Scenic Designer – Katie Stepanek
  • Projection Designer – Brittany Merenda
  • Duckling Puppet Designer/Builder – Jayden Libran
  • Lighting Designer – Matt Benes
  • Sound Designer & Engineer – Christy Hernandez
  • Costume, Hair & Makeup Designer – Zach Kloppenborg
  • Director of Production – Erin M. Solemsaas
  • Resident Costume Designer – Sherri Geerdes
  • Technical Director – Hunter Andrews
  • Props Mistress – Devon Denn-Young
  • Scenic Charge Artist – Savannah Savick
  • Master Carpenter – Jackson Curtright
  • Stitchers – Sherri Geerdes, Zach Kloppenborg, Audio Helkuik
Malik Fortner

Malik Fortner

Pigeon -

Malik Fortner is originally from Michigan. He moved to Omaha in 2010 where he found his love for acting in a high school production of Gift of the Magi. He has been involved in professional theater and filmmaking since 2016. Malik is very excited to have the chance to be a part of another show this season at The Rose. Malik has been seen in Penguin Problems (The Rose), Walk the Night (Blue Barn), Love and Information (Apollon), Tamurrud (Film), Chit (Film). He is also an ensemble member of Kerfuffle and has been featured in a few local commercials. When he is not prepping for a show Malik, enjoys crafting cosplays, playing board games with his roommates, watching anime and playing video games. Always believe in the me that believes in you!

Dani Cleveland

Dani Cleveland

Bus Driver -

Dani Cleveland is a gifted singer/songwriter/actor who hails from Omaha, Nebraska. She loves to be onstage. While patiently waiting for her big break, she continues to hone her craft by participating in local theater productions including The Wiz, For Colored Girls, and most recently, The Diary Of Anne Frank at The Rose Theater. She has written scripts for The Resurrection Productions at Salem Baptist Church where she serves on the Fine Arts Council & Worship Team. Dani loves photography, painting, crocheting & designing jewelry. She loves creative expression of any kind. She is grateful for this remarkable opportunity.

Jay Hayden

Jay Hayden

Business Person / Airplane -

Jay Hayden (they/them) is a Teaching Artist at The Rose and is overjoyed to be joining this production! You might have seen Jay on The Rose stage last season in The Cat in the Hat (Thing #2) or Howie D: Back in the Day (Justin/Prep #2), or around town in the touring casts of The Land of Peas (Kid) and Nebraskaland (Hummelsback). Jay is the founder of The Rose’s Teen IDEA Coalition, a monthly group dedicated to exploring art and theatre from the lens of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (Zine coming soon)! Their play, The League of Super-Zeroes is currently in development for a Summer 2021 youth production at The Rose.  Work outside of Omaha has included performances with the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, AATE's Broadway-on-Demand production of Rumpelstiltskin, and Vermont Stage. Black Lives Matter. Trans Lives Matter. Indigenous Lives Matter. Stand with Hong Kong.

Natalie Hanson

Natalie Hanson

Duckling / Bus Driver's Mom / Puppy -

Natalie is a Chicago-based performer from Seattle. A Creighton alum, she is ecstatic to be back in Omaha again. She was last seen as Pollyanna D. in the world premier of Howie D: Back in the Day, and It's a Wonderful Life with the Rose Theater. Other noted Omaha credits include Peter Pan (Tigerlily) and Newsies! (Tommyboy) with the Rose Theater, and Heathers the Musical (ensemble) with the BlueBarn Theatre. She was last seen in Hope: Part 2 of a Mexican Trilogy (Betty U/S) with Teatro Vista Theatre in Chicago. During quarantine, Natalie began writing and producing her own music. The first of which is called Likewise on Spotify and Apple Music under the artist name Facade Queen, as well as a collaborative EP Sigh, Sigh, Kiss! with her sister, Emilie and their duo "Court the Muse". Natalie recently choreographed and filmed a dance piece to an original song for TBD Dance Collective's Making Space 2020. To keep up with Natalie's artistic endeavors, her instagram is @facadequeen. Thanks to Mom, Dad, and Em for lifting me up always. 

Farrah Sklar

Farrah Sklar

City Worker / Teenager -

Farrah Raquel Sklar is thrilled to be part of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! Originally from Miami, Florida, Farrah is new to Omaha as a Rose Teaching Artist Fellow. She recently graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theater and a focus in Theater for Young Audiences. While at Northwestern, Farrah was part of Purple Crayon Players and Seesaw Theater, and spent much of their college career as a director, teaching artist, dramaturg, and actor. Favorite credits include Never Not Once (Director), Earthquake Chica (Director), Robin's Hood (Little J). In addition to virtual teaching at The Rose, Farrah has been fortunate be part of Kindness Begins With Us: The Tail of Two Wolves (Smalls) and Pride Players Project #22 (Co-Director).

Zhomontee Watson

Zhomontee Watson

2nd Pigeon Puppet / Little Old Lady -

Zhomontee Watson is an established actress, singer, a full-time graduate student and a graduate assistant at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. She is currently finishing her masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and will graduate in May 2021.You may recognize Zhomontee from her roles as Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act (Omaha Community Playhouse), Washing Machine in scoreline or Change (Omaha Community Playhouse), Miss Medda Larkin in Newsies (The Rose Theater), and Asaka in Once on This Island (SNAP! Productions and South High School). Zhomontee has recieved multiple awards, including the OEAA for Best Actress in a Musical in 2017 for her role as Deloris Van Cartier in Sister Act.

Shannon Duke

Shannon Duke

Understudy -

Shannon has been a guest educator and performer at The Rose since December 2018. She has since taught a plethora of summer camps, classes, and has now joined the ranks of Brigade Directors. You may have seen her during her debut as The Manager in Elf, or possibly as the evil stepsister Hattie in Ella Enchanted. She even got the opportunity, pre-pandemic, to work alongside the cast of Howie D. Back in the Day. This California native is very excited to be joining the cast as a swing, which she sees as the ultimate actor’s experience. She hopes that this production inspires joy in you, the audience, in this time of uncertainty. 

Stephanie Jacobson

Stephanie Jacobson

Director -

Stephanie has worked at The Rose for over 14 years as the Director of Early Childhood, Teaching Artist, Actor, Playwright and Director. She has had her adaptations of The Grocer's Goblin and The Little Mermaid (co-created with Brian Guehring), Thumbelina: Adventure Day, The Giant Who Chased The Moon, and Kindness Begins with Us: The Tail of Two Wolves (co-written with Carina DuMarce) produced at The Rose Theater. She has directed The Rose Theater's world premiere's of The Grocer’s Goblin and The Little Mermaid, The Misfits, Thumbelina: Adventure Day, and The Little Engine That Could. She has also directed productions of Curious George and The Golden Meatball, George and Martha Tons of Fun, Charlotte's Web, and A Child's Garden of Verses. She's performed as Piglet in Winnie The Pooh, Kaa in The Jungle Book, Ida In Honk and others at The Rose. Stephanie has her MFA in Acting from the University of Iowa, is a certified Yoga instructor, participated in the Diavolo Project: Nebraska, is a company member of Omaha's The Moving Company, performed in The Woodsman (at The Bluebarn) and participated as a playwright at The Eugene O'Neill Puppetry Festival, and is a trained puppeteer specializing in shadow puppetry and Bunraku. Before moving to Omaha, she lived in NYC where she worked with Liz Swados on her production of Jabu in an extended run at The Flea Theatre, Lee Bruer’s production of Mabou Mines' A Dollshouse National and International Tour, Taylor Mac and The Jim Henson Company.

Brandi M. Smith

Brandi M. Smith

Assistant Director -

Born and raised in North Omaha, NE, Brandi has been involved in local theater in the metro area for over 14 years. Most recently she was seen on stage in “Red Summer” at the Bluebarn Theatre, and is a recipient of the OEA’s Best Supporting Actor award for her role in The Bubbly Black Girl Sheds Her Chameleon Skin at The Union for Contemporary Art. This is Brandi’s first venture behind the scenes as assistant director and could not be more thrilled to embark a new leg of her career. In addition to theater, Brandi spends her time parenting her 9 year old daughter. 

Jerry Brabec

Jerry Brabec

Music Director -

Jerry Brabec, tenor, is an Ordained Deacon on the clergy staff at Omaha St. Paul United Methodist Church where he serves as Minister of Worship. His responsibilities include the overseeing of liturgical preparation for the congregation of 400. He also serves as choral director for Temple Israel’s Kol Rina. Awarded the Master of Music degree from the University of Nebraska, he studied choral conducting with Dr. Cina Crisara and Dr. Z. Randall Stroope. As a chorister of the acclaimed Robert Shaw Festival Chorus at Carnegie Hall, he sang for five years under the baton of the late Robert Shaw, was twice selected one of six participants in the Alice Parker Melodius Accord Fellowship Program and frequently continues his conducting studies with Ms. Parker during January in New York. At the Rose for the past twelve seasons, “Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus” marks his 45th show as a visiting music director/vocal coach. He also serves as music director for the nationally acclaimed Rose Brigade, one of the award winning offerings of the “Broadway at the Rose” program. Formerly, Jerry taught at the high school level for Council Bluffs Community Schools, served as associate artistic director of the Omaha Clarion Chorale, and as artistic director for the Kanesville Chorus and Renaissance Faire of the Midlands.

Know Before You Go


Everyone deserves a chance to experience the magic of theater. Performances are open to children and family members of all abilities. Click here to learn more about accessibility at The Rose.

Social Stories

A social story is a tool that helps individuals better understand the world around them so they can plan for a positive experience, even if they are going into an place that is unknown to them. Social stories help individuals know what to expect and what to do in unfamiliar situations by walking them through the experience. They are often used by individuals on the autism spectrum, children with sensory needs or those with other special needs. They can be very helpful for very young children anticipating their first theatrical experience. The Rose’s social stories feature photos of all areas of the theater to help children of all abilities with a step-by-step explanation of what it is like to visit The Rose, as well as answering questions they may have. Click here to access The Rose’s show-specific social stories.

Theater Location

The Rose is located in downtown Omaha at 2001 Farnam Street on the southwest corner of 20th & Farnam Streets.


From west Omaha, take I-80 East to 1-480 North and exit onto 20th Street. The Rose is located on Farnam Street, approximately three blocks south of the 20th Street exit.

Convenient Parking

The closest and most convenient parking is available for $2 in the garage at 19th & Harney, courtesy of the Omaha Douglas Public Building Commission (1910 Harney St., Omaha, NE 68102).

Parking meters surrounding the theater are active from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with free parking available on Sundays and holidays. A variety of parking lots are available around the theater, as well, ranging in cost from $2-$5.

Safety at The Rose

For generations, The Rose has been a trusted friend for children and families. We may be doing things a little differently this season, but our commitment to you is still the same.

Throughout this pandemic and in the days that follow, we promise that we will continue to be the place where families can be inspired by the magic of theater.

As our community begins to re-open, we re-commit to being a place where your family can enjoy the performing arts safely and securely.

From onstage performances to classroom experiences, we are dedicated to the health and well-being of every individual — young people, parents, grandparents, educators, artists and staff. This may mean that you encounter some changes during your Rose experience, and we ask for your cooperation and partnership with us to ensure the safety of everyone involved.

Here are just a few examples of our commitment to your safety:

Enhanced cleaning procedures

The auditorium and lobby will be thoroughly cleaned before and after each performance for your family’s safety.

Fewer audience members

Our auditorium seating will be limited in capacity. Families will be seated together with empty seats between family groups.

Directed Seating

In order to maintain social distance between groups, audiences will enter through the center aisle and be directed to specific seats on a first come, first served basis. Seating groups will be spaced at least six feet apart. Audience members will exit using the side aisles only.

Social Distancing

Families are asked to stay six feet from other family groupings. It may be necessary to form a line outside of the building to maintain this distance in line.

Masks Required

Per the City of Omaha mask mandate, a mask must be worn when inside the theater.

Touchless Ticketing

Tickets must be purchased in advance, either online or by phone. When you arrive at the theater, we will check your name off a list; no need to present a ticket.

Digital programs & online activities

Show programs will be available on The Rose website. There will be no lobby activities, but activities will be available online.

Concessions and Sales Items

For your family’s safety, concessions and sales items will not be sold during the 2020-21 season. No outside snack items allowed.

One-way entry and exit

Families are asked to enter The Rose using the doors on 20th Street and exit onto Farnam Street.

No Booster Loans

Booster seats will not be available for loan from The Rose. You are welcome to bring your own seat for your child to use.

Limited Access to Restrooms

Access to restrooms will be limited due to social distancing requirements.

Drinking Fountains

Drinking fountains will not be available.

Additional Time for Seating

We realize these precautions may mean that it will take additional time to be seated. We will be opening the auditorium doors 40 minutes before showtime.

Digital streaming of shows

During the 2020-21 season, if circumstances require The Rose to cancel a performance, we have made arrangements with a professional videographer to record a high-quality video of most member shows. This video, featuring engaging, high-definition images, dynamic film-quality editing of close-ups and wide angles, will be made available to members in the event that we cannot physically welcome you into our building.

In addition, we are also offering a digital-only ticket package, giving your family a front-row seat to The Rose — right from the comfort and safety of your living room! This option is perfect for families who want to maintain social distancing, who live outside the Omaha metro area or others who cannot physically attend shows at the theater.

While the world around us changes, you can be assured that The Rose remains committed to you and your family, and that we continue to be a place where you and your children can experience the joy and spectacle of the performing arts together.